Getting engaged can be one of the most exciting days of a person’s life, but while planning the perfect proposal may feel tricky, buying the ring can be just as much of a minefield.
You can ‘like’ thousands of pictures of diamond rings on Instagram and swoon over your friends’ sparklers, but deciding what you actually want to buy consists of a lot of decision making – whether you’re picking out your own or secretly shopping for your significant other.
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Just a quick glance at any diamond jeweller’s website will confirm that things may not be as simple as you initially thought, with seemingly endless letters and numbers accompanying each individual diamond that impact hugely on the price.
Here’s everything you need to consider when buying your engagement ring, from diamond shape to the crucial ‘4Cs‘ (Cut, Colour, Clarity & Carat).
The round brilliant is the most popular shape of diamond. Timeless, traditional and universally loved, it offers maximum fire and offers great flexibility within the 4Cs.
£POA, Jessie Thomas
A beautiful teardrop shape, the pear-cut diamond gives the finger a slender appearance due to the stone’s point while retaining a soft look thanks to the rounded edge.
Often referred to as ‘square-emerald’ diamonds, the asscher-cut is super chic and art-deco in style thanks to its unique step-cut facets. It suits statement-making people with a romantic fondness for nostalgia.
£POA, Mark Broumand
Radiant-cuts combine the rectangular shape of an emerald-cut and the brilliance of a round. Full of fire, this is the sparkliest stone with straight edges.
£POA, Taylor & Heart
Combining the brilliance of a round-cut diamond with the elegance of a marquise-cut, the heart is a perfectly romantic and super contemporary stone to opt for.
£POA, Stephanie Gottlieb
The marquise is one for lovers of size, as it often appears far larger than its carat weight suggests. Similarly to the pear-cut, it elongates the finger and makes for a super feminine look.
£POA, Taylor & Heart
Ovals provide the fire of a round with a more streamlined shape that accentuates long and slender fingers. It’s a super popular stone right now, and gives a more modern spin on the classic round.
Super unique due to its step-cut facets, much like the asscher the emerald doesn’t hide its imperfections (such as poor colour or clarity) due to the large open table which isn’t disguised by the sparkles of a round.
£POA, Harry Winston
A triangle-shaped stone with slightly rounded sides, the trillion has all the fire of a round in a more unusual shape. Often used as side stones, it’s fast becoming a popular choice of its own.
Unsurprisingly pillow-like in shape, the cushion is available as a square or rectangle and has slightly rounded edges. It has large facets and a lot of fire thanks to its impressive brilliance.
Also available in square or rectangular cuts, the princess has almost unbeatable fire due to the way light is emitted. With strong, angular lines, it has a pyramidal shape that works particularly well in a solitaire setting.
£POA, Lark & Berry
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While it’s one of the most complicated aspects of diamond-buying, understanding the stone’s cut is crucial to understanding its value and visual appearance.
How a diamond is cut will impact on its brilliance (the brightness created from a combination of reflected white lights), its fire (seemingly multicoloured flashes throughout the diamond) and its scintillation (the blinking flashes of light from facet to facet as you move the stone).
The GIA Diamond Cut Scale for standard round brilliant diamonds ranges from Excellent to Poor (Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor) and is the definitive scale for classifying these diamond cuts.
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The colour – or lack of – when choosing a diamond is super important. You may not be able to tell subtle differences with the naked eye, but you will be able to tell between a colourless stone and one with yellowing.
While settings, and different metals, will also impact the overall ‘colour’ appearance of the diamond, the diamond itself is graded in an alphabetical scale from D-Z:
- D, E, F – Colorless
- G, H, I, J- Near Colorless
- K, L, M – Faint Yellow
- N, O, P, Q, R – Very Light Yellow
- S, T, U,V, W, X, Y, Z – Light Yellow
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A diamond’s ‘clarity’ refers to the internal imperfections. As diamonds are generally mined from deep within the earth, imperfections are inevitable. Of course, the fewer imperfections a diamond has the more valuable it is, but the majority will be impossible to see with the naked eye.
The clarity is graded on a scale from FL (Flawless) to I (Imperfect):
- FL – Flawless
- IF – Internally Flawless
- VVS1, VVS2 – Very, Very Slightly Included
- VS1, VS2 – Very Slightly Included
- SI1, SI2 – Slightly Included
- I1, I2, I3 – Imperfect
The carat of a diamond essentially refers to its weight, but it’s often confused for the ‘size’.
Of course, a larger weight would usually refer to a larger size, but with the individuality of each diamond meaning that some are deeper, some are shallower, some are wider and some are narrower, diamonds carry their weight in different ways.
It’s therefore important to make sure you know where your chosen shape tends to carry its weight, and to understand that two diamonds of equal carat may appear quite different in top dimension.
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For more from Glamour UK’s Fashion Editor Charlie Teather, follow her on Instagram @charlieteather.